Wedding Woes

You cannot control how someone else feels or reacts to anything.

Dear Prudence,

I used to be best friends with my sister. When our dad died last year, disagreements pushed us apart, and we barely spoke for months. Recently things have improved and I hoped we could go back to what we were. Now, I am at a loss and am not sure whether I can continue contact with her, because an email exchange has left me fuming. In reference to my being sexually assaulted by a family member, she wrote, “I don’t know what to think.” I took this really hard. It feels like she blames me for the assault or is taking the relative’s side. She tries to get out of talking about this—it is very hard to get her to sit down in person, as she is the type who wants to brush it off and pretend nothing happened. I am the opposite. I can’t let anything go until it’s been discussed. How do I reconcile with her?

—Sisterly Estrangement

Re: You cannot control how someone else feels or reacts to anything.

  • mrsconn23 said:
    Dear Prudence,

    I used to be best friends with my sister. When our dad died last year, disagreements pushed us apart, and we barely spoke for months. Recently things have improved and I hoped we could go back to what we were. Now, I am at a loss and am not sure whether I can continue contact with her, because an email exchange has left me fuming. In reference to my being sexually assaulted by a family member, she wrote, “I don’t know what to think.” I took this really hard. It feels like she blames me for the assault or is taking the relative’s side. She tries to get out of talking about this—it is very hard to get her to sit down in person, as she is the type who wants to brush it off and pretend nothing happened. I am the opposite. I can’t let anything go until it’s been discussed. How do I reconcile with her?

    —Sisterly Estrangement
    You can't force someone to process on your time.   Give her space.  Sis may have a lot of trouble reconciling that someone respected really should not have been.   I would have a lot of feelings if someone told me that about a loved one too. 
    short+sassyeileenrob
  • My sister is like LW, direct and addresses problems head on (and constantly) until they are resolved. I am definitely more like LW’s sister but it’s not that I pretend nothing happened (though I can see how it would look like that on the outside), I just need more time to process things. I have probably would have reacted similarly, saying I didn’t know how to feel about something. 
    charlotte989875
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    My brother had a strong reaction when he learned I'd been sexually assaulted, and did not want to discuss it with me. And I know it's because he's upset, and can't handle me speaking about it (we lived together at the time, and I know he feels guilt about it). And that's OK. I'm not angry or upset with him for it. LW needs to speak to a therapist to work on letting this go. What her sister said doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't believe her. 

    charlotte989875eileenrobernursej
  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    member
    Not everyone is cut out to take the "therapist" friend/family role in your life and LW is data-dumping a lot on the sister when it really needs to be worked through with a skilled therapist of any variety who has knowledge of listening to someone tell their story.  Someone not knowing what to think is an entirely appropriate response by someone who wasn't/has never been through a situation like that because the reaction is being present and honest.  It's good to know and let others know the relative is a dirtbag, but LW can't expect others in her life to be the therapist she actually needs...  
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    short+sassy
  • Unfortunately not everyone responds to hearing about someone else’s trauma in ways that are supportive and helpful. But that doesn’t mean they can’t/won’t be supportive or helpful. Sometimes it means they don’t know what to say. 

    Give it time. Talk to a counselor and if/when you want to bring it up to your sister talk with your counselor about the best ways to do that, and to prepare yourself for the possibility the sister will not say or do what you hope she will. 
    short+sassyeileenrob
  • downtondivadowntondiva
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary Name Dropper
    member
    edited June 21
    There's a difference between "I don't know what to think" and "I don't know who to believe." I don't think it's right of LW to automatically assume her sister doesn't believe her or blames her. Sister could just be shocked that it happened and unsure of how to handle the information. It doesn't mean she's dismissing LW or what happened to her. 

    Just because someone is family does not mean they can be there for you in the ways that you need. It doesn't necessarily mean they don't care about you; some people are just really bad at dealing with upsetting or traumatic situations. LW needs to accept that for whatever reason, her sister is not going to be able to help her through this, and find a therapist who can. 
    image
    eileenrobMesmrEweshort+sassy
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
    10000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    member
    Unfortunately, family members don't always make good confidantes. 

     It can be really hard to hear that a family member has hurt another family member, and like this sister, people don't always react well.

    Like @Ro041 says, the LW needs professional help with this from someone who isn't going to be personally hurt upon receiving this information.
    charlotte989875Ro041
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